The past decade — 2010 to 2019 — has been phenomenal for me. I did ONE thing that I have long wanted to do, but never had the courage to do so until 2010.
I stepped out of my comfort zone.
I left an 11-year teaching career behind and started working from home for global companies and international clients.
It was a simple, yet risky decision for me at the time.
I had no idea about how remote work and freelancing worked.
I haven’t worked with international employers and clients.
But at the time, I felt that staying where I was seemed riskier than leaving.
So I left.
Little did I know that my life was about to transform.
Looking back, I wouldn’t have done it differently.
Because that one decision to leave a “secure” job to work remotely as an independent contractor changed the entire decade for me.
It’s Coming: The Next Big Thing
Getting out of your comfort zone is hard enough. What’s more difficult is how to deal with the feeling of being in-between when you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone.
Imagine going out of a room that has shielded you from the discomfort or challenges in life. When you go out, you’ll see several doors waiting to be opened. You could choose a door or create your own door.
Opening a door leads you to different paths. Again, you could choose to create your own path or choose a path that has been paved for you. Expect a steep learning curve either way.
While making decisions in between, you might find yourself wanting to go back. When you’ve gone far, you might feel like you’re in a “point of no return.”
Jeff Goins calls this phase “The In-Between,” — thetension between now and the next big thing. This in-between time is confusing and vexing. Like the naked lobster, you’ve outgrown and cast away your old shell, but haven’t found your new one yet. You feel exposed and vulnerable. — Benjamin Hardy
You will feel an internal tension coupled with various emotions like doubts, loneliness, stress, excitement, gratitude, fear. That’s when most people go back to where they were.
But here’s what I discovered: At this point, you will feel scared, confused and excited at the same time. When you are feeling that tension, it’s a sign that you’re up for the NEXT BIG THING in your life or career.
So don’t give up in the middle of your journey. Don’t lose sight of your goals. Keep moving. Soon enough, you’ll see light at the end of the tunnel.
Here’s a journal entry (unedited) I wrote to myself about this:
The 10 Lessons That Changed My Life in The Past Decade
#1: Learn to say no
Not everything that glitters is an opportunity. Many times, opportunities disguised themselves as hard work.
Say no to an “opportunity” that doesn’t excite you or doesn’t serve your purpose. Say no to a prospective client who’s not a good fit. That’s all right.
Having clarity on your values, passions, purpose and goals will help you identify real opportunities and eliminate all sorts of distractions.
#2: Learn to let go
My biggest mistake was believing I can accomplish great things on my own. Wrong.
If you have big goals and big dreams, you need to understand and accept that you can’t do everything on your own. You can only do so much.
Let go of some responsibilities and concerns. Find a partner. Collaborate. Delegate. Build a team. Trust your team. That’s how you expand yourself to get ahead.
If you want to grow, let go.
#3: Never stop learning
Stay curious. Be interested. Be keen on learning new things and applying them. That’s your No. 1 job.
There’s no shortage of skills to learn or knowledge to digest. You can learn everything now through free and paid learning tools, courses, videos, podcasts and other resources.
You can also learn from mentors and coaches who can guide you through to get you where you want to go. Learning from them can save you a lot of time figuring things out on your own and empower you to grow fast whether in your career or business.
#4: Choose the stories you tell yourself
To change your future, change the stories that you tell yourself.
The stories we constantly tell ourselves shape the way we think and the way we behave. Remove self-doubts by eliminating any negative self-talk.
Tell your story by looking at a glass as half-full, rather than half-empty. The self-fulfilling prophecy is real. The law of attraction is constantly working with the universe to deliver what you think about and focus on.
#5: Build your self-confidence
Build your self-confidence as if your entire career depends on it.
Nothing gets done well without self-confidence. You can’t go all in and give 100% of what you know and who you are if you don’t believe in yourself.
Invest in yourself by taking the time needed to sit down and get to know yourself well. Do an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledge your fears and do something to overcome them.
Build your self-confidence by surrounding yourself with people and events that inspire you. Celebrate your small wins. Learn new things.
#6: Build your personal brand long before you need it
Build your presence, influence and network on LinkedIn while you are happily employed. Every job is temporary. Your personal brand is your “career insurance.”
You can certainly get a job or generate leads through LinkedIn, but using the platform while you are in dire need of jobs or leads shifts your attention to the short-term results of getting hired or obtaining leads as soon as possible.
If, however, you take the time to build your personal brand and build professional relationships through LinkedIn, you wouldn’t even need to look for a job. The job will come find you. Your potential clients will reach out to you. But you’ve got to put in the work.
#7: Give, give, give — without expecting anything in return
There is power in giving.
To get what you want, you’ve got to give what others want. It’s true in business, it applies in real life. I’ve always believed that whatever we give comes back tenfold. I’ve seen it happen many, many times.
What we give comes back in many different forms and favors that we sometimes have never thought of. Be more of a giver, not so much of a taker.
#8: Be grateful
Count your blessings. Do it every day. And be grateful.
It’s simple: The more grateful you are, the more you attract things, events, opportunities or people that will make you feel more grateful.
If it’s not yet natural for you to express gratitude, practice doing it. Giving thanks can make you look forward to tomorrow, make you happier, productive, creative and more fun to work with.
#9: Define and communicate your value
Whether in career or in business, clearly communicating your value is key to your success.
Know your worth. Be clear about the value that you bring to the table when you apply for a job or reach out to potential clients. People will determine your worth based on how well or how poorly you communicate your value.
If you don’t define your value, others will do it for you. You have a choice.
#10: Faith, health and relationships are the cornerstones of your success
Without good health, faith and relationships, everything else is irrelevant.
Believe that there’s someone out there that’s bigger than you. That’s faith.
Eat healthy food. Exercise. Get enough sleep. The old adage is true: Health is wealth.
Many times, it’s not only what you know that matters, but who you know and who knows you. Build meaningful relationships if you want to get ahead in life, in your career and in business.
How about you, what are the top lessons you learned in the past 10 years?